(Lavender Leaf Sage) It's easy to confuse this sage from Southern Mexico with a Lavender bush. The bluish-lavender flower spikes make it look like a Lavandula species as does the foliage, which is similar in size, shape and color.
However, unlike Lavender, which blooms from spring into fall, this gray herbaceous perennial sage follows an opposite pattern. It begins blooming in fall and continues into spring if not deterred by frost.
Although it doesn't grow quickly, heat-tolerant Salvia lavanduloides is tough when given full sun, good air circulation and well-drained soil. It is a fragrant groundcover, border or container plant and is highly recommended by honeybees and butterflies. Humans like it too, which explains why it is often in short supply.
These are species that produce woody stems, but die back to the ground in the winter in all but the warmest climates. In warm winter areas these can become woody shrubs, but they generally benefit from the following pruning methods.
Pruning is both an art and a science. It takes practice, experience and learning from your mistakes to become a proficient pruner. The pruning information about this plant should be considered as a guideline for getting started. Your particular climate, soils, watering and fertility schedules, sun exposure, space requirements and weather are all factors that influence how and when you choose to prune. We’re providing a starting place for you, and over time you will learn the particularities of this plant in your garden. Don’t be afraid to get started – Salvias, in general, are quick to rebound if inappropriately pruned.
Deadheading – the removal of spent flowers, is a practice that will always benefit the plant’s health and appearance. This can be done at any time. Pruning involves removal of entire stems of spent growth. Becoming "spent" means that flowering stems stop blooming and begin going to seed.
(Showy Milkweed) Milkweeds (Asclepias spp. ) are must-have, nectar-rich plants in the butterfly garden. They're the only genus on which the endangered Monarch butterfly lays eggs. It is urgent that we offer this pretty, fragrant wildflower.
In spring 2013, The New York Times reported a precipitous decline in the Monarch butterfly migration due to various causes, including North America’s plummeting supply of Milkweed. The species normally grows wild in agricultural fields. However, the increasing use of seed genetically modified to withstand herbicides has eliminated at least 120 million acres of Monarch habitat, according to The New York Times.
Backyard gardeners can help reverse this trend by growing plants, such as Showy Milkweed, which keep the Monarch migration alive and feed other species of butterflies as well.
Butterflies need flowers on which they can easily perch while sipping nectar. Plants with globe-shaped flower heads, such as those of Milkweeds, meet this need. The roughness of Showy Milkweed's long, fuzzy, gray-green leaves make it easy for eggs and chrysalises to connect. Powerful chemicals in the foliage are consumed by Monarch caterpillars and make them off limits -- as babies and adult butterflies -- to predators that can’t consume those substances.
Showy Milkweed features globes of tiny, star-shaped flowers that are pale, creamy pink. It isn’t very big for such a powerful plant, growing only 24 to 36 inches tall and 24 inches wide. Although it can tolerate a bit of partial shade, this plant prefers full sun. It likes droughty conditions as well as gravelly ground. Any kind of soil will do as long as it drains well.
This cold-tolerant species grows well in USDA Zones 4 to 9 where it looks pretty in perennial borders or massed with other Lepidoptera favorites in butterfly gardens. It is particularly well adapted to dry gardens. Milkweeds are native to a large swath of North America, so they are also good choices for native gardens.
To control the plant’s tendency to naturalize in parts of the yard where you don’t want to grow it, simply snip off the seedpods before they ripen and pop open.
IMPORTANT NOTE: What you will recieve is a very well established root system. The foliege will not be cosmetically perfect, and it is only in the second year, once planted out in the ground, that this species will attain its full potential. In the wild this species often exhibits summer dormancy. There is generally very little above ground activity in the year in which this is planted.
(Sacred White Sage) Bees, hummingbirds and spiritual blessings are all connected to this elegant shrubby sage, which is an important herb to indigenous Californians and deserves a place in every salvia garden. Stiff and almost fleshy, its leaves are tight rosettes of brilliant, silvery white. The flower spikes soar above the foliage, with hundreds of small white-to-lavender flowers that are one of the most important sources of pollen and nectar for pollinators. This Salvia is also the source of leaves for Native American smudge sticks used in purification rituals.
Slow growing but not difficult, this California native requires good drainage and full sun. In its dry-summer/wet-winter range, it often grows on rocky, south slopes. Very little water is needed once the plant becomes established.
Our strain is well adapted to the moist environment of coastal Northern California, and performs well in a wide variety of climates. We select only the whitest and most compact plants for vegetative propagation, insuring a tidy shrub that will not overgrow its space.
Historically, Sacred White Sage has been used in medicinal teas and ground into flour for cooking. We burn the leaves in our home to sweeten and purify the air. This is a beautiful and powerful plant.
(Blue Ecuadorian Sage) A densely branched shrub with silvery leaves and dusky blue flowers, this rare species was once thought to be Salvia cruickshanksii. In the nursery trade, it sometimes is called Salvia 'Equador'.
This is the true species and a great groundcover or shrubby border perennial for warm areas. We find that this Salvia does best with ample water, but is remarkably drought tolerant if necessary. The warmer your garden, the larger it grows. Monster plants up to 12 feet tall have been reported in the hills above Monterey Bay.
The flowers, which seem to never stop blooming, are strongly marked with white bee lines. Especially in the warmth of summer this variety is one that blooms non-stop, attracting honeybees, butterflies and hummingbirds. It needs to be cut back occasionally so that new growth predominates.
Blue Equadorian Sage looks handsome in mixed containers, where it is a fine backdrop for plants with darker or glossy green leaves. Although this perennial's ultimate cold tolerance is unknown, it may be a candidate for Zones 7 and 8.
Found in only six locations in the Andes at 8,000 to 9,000 feet, this is a species considered "vulnerable." Plant it and you are helping to preserve a species that is one step short of being classified as endangered.
(Black Sage or Honey Sage) One of the most common and fragrant native shrubs in Central California's Coast Ranges, Black Sage is ideal for dry gardens. Admirably adaptable, it tolerates soils ranging from the most marginal to ones that are loamy and provide excellent drainage. It is a survivor.
The elegant long wrinkled leaves are powerfully aromatic. Its small white-to-lavender whorls of flowers, which bloom from summer into fall, are vital sources of nectar and pollen for honeybees and hummingbirds.
Use this garden workhorse for a large scale groundcover, as a background planting for other more dramatic Salvias or as a vital plant in a wildlife garden. It likes full sun and is heat tolerant.
Our strain is originally from seed collected at the far northern edge of its range, and is hardy to at least 20 degrees F.
Hummingbirds love Salvia (sage) nectar and are attracted to it by the bright colors of tubular sage blossoms. In particular, these little whirlybirds can easily spot flowers in the red spectrum, which is prevalent among sages. Here are some hummingbird gardening tips.
Fragrance as well as color attracts butterflies. However, they don't have noses. Instead, butterflies smell and taste with their antennas and feet. Here are some ways to attract them:
If you live in suburbs or rural areas where deer plunder gardens, Salvias (sages) can be part of your plan for discouraging these hungry visitors. Here are some tips.
Xeric plants are excellent for water conservation. They grow well in dry gardens with little to no supplemental watering once established. In fact, overwatering can harm these plants, which are native to dry environments such as deserts and chaparral.
At Flowers by the Sea, we identify all xeric plants with a blue plant marker that warns against overwatering. Here are some tips for growing and understanding our xeric, or blue tag, plants:
1) In a humid region, you may find it difficult to grow plants native to semi-arid and arid environments. Yet xeric plants may succeed if you have a persistently dry area, such as under a roof overhang or in the shelter of a tree.
2) Xeric plants are excellent for locations far from garden hoses, such as along sidewalks -- areas often referred to as "hellstrips."
3) Shipping is hard on xeric plants, which suffer from confinement in small containers as well as boxes. You may see some mold, spots on leaves or withered foliage when they arrive. But xeric plants perk up with proper care while hardening off in partial shade before planting.
4) When amending soil before planting, remember that xeric plants not only need excellent drainage but also flower better in low fertility soil. Fertilize sparingly and use a mix with more phosphorous than nitrogen to encourage flowering and discourage lax overgrowth of foliage.
5) Organic matter, such as compost, is an excellent soil amendment for xeric plants, because it keeps their roots healthy by improving aeration and drainage.
6) When your xeric plants are established, water infrequently to encourage deep root growth and to avoid fungal problems. However, it's a good idea to gently spray dust off foliage about once a week.